This week I decided I’m going on a new diet. It’s called the Mind-Reading Diet.
Slimming down with psychic friends? Nah, it has nothing to do with food.
Instead, I’m going to experiment with taking people at their word, not guessing the meaning behind what they’re saying, not feeding into passive-aggression, not giving fished for compliments, not anticipating unstated needs.
The organization where I work is particularly bad about indirect communication, and it’s been the most exhausting part of my job. I’m now at the point professionally, however, where I’ve accrued a ton of social capital and have been promoted in house as high as we have any budget or justification for. I do not need to mind read at work. I’m very competent and trusted. Management chiefly worries (aloud) that I will leave, that I’ve outgrown what they have to offer me.
This Mind-Reading Diet is a radical departure from the status quo. Mind-reading and obsessing over unforeseeable, uncontrollable minutiae are an integral part of our company culture, and it’s modeled constantly around me, so it’ll be easy to get pulled back unless I dig in my heels and establish a personal force field of “wait and see.”
It occurred to me recently that while I’ve done an incredible amount of work at getting more comfortable with being direct and frank in my communication with others (though preserving my natural tendency toward tact) and being less oblique and worried about how I’d be perceived that I was still accepting and honoring and effectively REINFORCING indirect communication every day, especially in my workplace.
It’s been a few days, and so far, so great. Some of the things that escape my lips to encourage people to be direct seem incredibly bold – “I can’t give you what you want if you don’t ask for it.” I’m also finding that sometimes people need to approach me multiple times since I am answering the question that they’re actually asking me and not guessing at the one they really want to ask but are afraid would be rude. But it’s so much less hassle and work inside my brain, and it doesn’t seem to be hurting my relationships.
I think this diet is going to work. I already feel lighter.